Emancipation is for minors, between the ages of 16-18, who are living their lives as though they were adults. In other words working and being able to support themselves. The law was designed to allow children, who are really already living on their own, to have some adult privileges that would require consent from a parent or guardian.. You have to be able to show that you are a) living independently and b) capable of managing your own financial affairs and , c)emancipation is a valid request to help you with your independence..
The law states the purpose of emancipation this way “to provide a means by which a minor who has demonstrated the ability and capacity to manage his or her own affairs and to live independent of his or her parents or guardian, may obtain the legal status of an emancipated person with the power to enter into valid contracts.”
The state law on emancipation is found at Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-1005
A judge will appoint a guardian ad litem once you have filed a petition for emancipation.
GAL attorneys are frequently in court and not at their desks. If you cannot reach a GAL attorney in your area you may contact the GAL Director at (801)578-3800.
Click here for a list of GAL offices and phone numbers
The Forms necessary to file a petition for emancipation can be downloaded. There is a filing fee of $50.00. Click here for a copy of the forms.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How old must I be to seek emancipation?
You must be at least 16 years old and you may file the petition yourself at the juvenile courthouse.
2. Where can I find a Guardian Ad Litem GAL)?
GAL attorneys can be reached by phone but they are frequently in court and not at their desks. If you cannot reach a GAL attorney in your area you may contact the GAL Director at (801)578-3800. Click here for a list of GAL offices and phone numbers
3. What will I gain from emancipation?
Emancipation allows a minor to sign contracts, which means you can enroll in school, open a checking account, apply for credit, lease an apartment and other things that would normally require the consent of or notice to a parent. It also means you can be held legally responsible for debts you incur if you are emancipated.
Many adults are not very good at managing their own finances – if you are emancipated you should learn about credit and debt management because financial mistakes may hurt your credit and effect you for a long time.
4. An emancipated person is considered an adult when:
Entering into a contract
Buying and selling property
Suing or being sued
Keeping their own earnings (checking, savings and investment accounts)
Borrowing money from a lending institution for any purpose, including education
Getting healthcare without parent consent
5. An emancipated person is not considered an adult when:
Facing criminal charges (unless you are certified to stand trial as an adult)
They are a victim of a crime and the age of the victim is an element of the crime
Voting, using alcohol, possessing tobacco or firearms or other health and safety regulations that require a person to be 18 or older
Bottom line: You can’t smoke, drink or vote because you are emancipated.
6. Who should consider emancipation?
You are living on your own and need medical care and cannot get help or permission from your parents
You need to rent an apartment
You would like to open a checking or savings account
You need to sign for your drivers license
You want to go to college
7. Who should not consider emancipation?
You are mad at your parents for preventing you from playing video games or going to parties.
You want to be with your boyfriend or girlfriend and your parents won’t allow it.
You want to marry before the legal marriage age.
You currently have warrants or citations that have not been taken care of through the court.
8. Will my parents be notified if I file a petition for emancipation?
YES. If you are unsure or worried about this notice, it may be wise to ask some of your questions BEFORE filing your petition. Once the petition is filed it will be served on your parents and a hearing will be set. At the hearing the court will hear from both you and your parents. The judge will decide whether or not emancipation is best for you.
9. Does the granting of an emancipation petition terminate my parents’ rights?
NO. The granting of emancipation is just as if your 18th birthday came early. It is not a finding of unfitness on the part of the minor’s parents. When you are granted emancipation, your parents still have the right to raise and educate their children.
10. What is the effect of emancipation on my parents?
The granting of emancipation removes the legal obligation that every parent has to support his or her child (and ends a child support obligation), again it is as though the child has turned 18 and is no longer entitled to support.
11. Can I be emancipated if I still need state services or help from friends or a non-profit agency?
NO. When you file for emancipation you are stating that you are fully capable of taking care of yourself financially as an adult. However, Medicaid is still available if you need it and qualify for benefits.
12. Can I still get assistance from a non-profit agency?
YES. However, that decision is up to each individual agency. In some cases, emancipation makes it easier for an agency to provide services for you.
Forms for Emancipation are at: http://www.utcourts.gov/resources/forms/emancipation/
Note: #1 Petition for Emancipation and #4 Declaration of Income are the only forms needed